February Picks

Littlewood, Fran (2023) Amazing Grace Adams. M. Joseph.

After being stuck in traffic gridlock Grace lets her menopausal rage take charge as she travels through London, on foot, to deliver a cake for her estranged daughter’s sixteenth birthday. The story takes place over the course of a really bad day. She has become unhinged by the impact of her perimenopausal present as she encounters a range of micro aggressions that induce her to react fiercely, all the while unravelling significant trauma. Will Grace save her life by being recognised as the amazing woman her husband and daughter once thought she was? A roller-coaster.

Rating: 3/5

Bibby, Anna (2022) Learning to be French (and failing): A New Zealander, a tiny village and an ancient stone house. Allen & Unwin.

When you are a woman of a certain (dangerous) age what better way to enjoy life than to buy and renovate your own maison de maître in the Dordogne – “a region of eye candy”. The story of Anna’s adventures in the village of Martel with its ancient stone buildings, narrow cobbled lanes and potted geraniums, of her renovation trials and tribulations, and of her friendships and guests is warm and engaging. Let’s not forget about the food and apéritifs. Delightful read with beautiful illustrations. Her next adventure developing a gîte near Bordeaux? Loved it.

Rating: 5/5

Hepworth, Sally (2022) The Soulmate. Macmillan.

Gabe had become a local hero after talking seven people down from stepping off the edge at The Drop, until the day he didn’t. He and wife Pippa lived on the beachside cliffs by The Drop. Gabe’s failure to save the eighth jumper was observed by Pippa. Why were his arms outstretched, palms facing outwards? Pippa’s suspicions are heightened when she learns that the victim has a real connection to her and her husband. As the police come ever closer Gabe spirals out of control and Pippa contemplates love and loyalty. What would you overlook for your soulmate? Well-designed thriller.

Rating: 3/5

Donoghue, Emma (2022) Haven. Picador.

In seventh-century Ireland a priest-scholar and two monks set out in search of an isolated place, beyond the sins of the world, to found a monastery. As they drift into the Atlantic they discover a jagged barren island inhabited by thousands of birds and claim it for God. Accepting the leadership of Artt, the learned holy man, the monks Comac and Trian set about taming the harsh landscape to fulfil Artt’s vision whilst risking their own humanity and sanity. This is a divinely inspired, albeit brutal, story of survival that builds slowly to a crescendo.

Rating: 4/5

Matthews, Owen (2022) Overreach: The Inside Story of Putin’s War Against Ukraine. Mudlark.

A year-on the geopolitical crisis of the Russo-Ukrainian War seems set for the long-haul. Owen Matthews presents a birds-eye view of the conflict, utilising his journalistic career in Russia and his own family connections to both Russia and Ukraine. He takes us through the historical roots of the conflict, the motivations of the main players, rampant paranoia, reckless decision-making, unconstrained propaganda, insider testimony, and on the ground accounts, to provide a record of how the first six months of the war unfolded. Authoritative, shocking and enlightening. Must-read.

Rating: 5/5


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